Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Final Day in Edinburgh

The trip is coming to an end, but I'm not complaining. I've had a really great time and I'm already planning my next trip back. I've learned a lot about myself and people in general. I want to say first and foremost, the Scottish people are some of the nicest and most gracious people I've ever met. 

Everyone was willing to help the American and my destruction of their language when trying to pronounce their foods, drinks, cities, towns, national monuments, rivers, lochs and just about everything else when I opened my mouth.

Most were very patient, speaking slowly (while rolling their eyes) as they helped me through the word or phrase I was trying say. Except bus drivers. They would gruffly mumble something and then yell out loud enough for the entire bus to hear, "Eer's ya'stop mate!" anxious to get me off and on to their next stop. 

It was odd having people comment on my accent wondering whether I was Canadian or American. A young guy, about 22 years old, having a pint after work with his buddies wanted to hear me talk, asking many questions about American football and baseball. He couldn't get his head wrapped around American football's rules and why the players wore so much bloody equipment, "Soccer and rugby players don't wear crap!" Said it looked queer. I, on the other hand, have finally got a grasp on soccer, and to some degree, rugby. Heaven forbid!

Yesterday, in late afternoon, the sky opened up a bit and I was able to get few more decent shots. Note the last two photos below taken of Edinburgh Castle. They were taken two seconds apart, then the camera ran out of juice. Curses, foiled again!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

High Winds in Edinburgh

High winds of  70-100 mile per hour, along with biting rain, have closed all the local attractions including Edinburgh Castle. Because of the wind and rain, getting a decent photo has been a challenge to say the least. The light changes literally in a matter of seconds, turning a beautiful, naturally lit building into a dull, boring shot. 

But not all has been lost on nasty weather. I've been fortunate enough to be able to sample the national drink, in between hurricane force wind and piercing rain. Quite a variety to choose from, of which I've been concentrating on what's not available in the US.

Below are images from the Royal Mile of Edinburgh, a truly windy city (note the flags on their buildings, they're being ripped to shreds!)

Monday, May 23, 2011

More Scotland Photos

Currently, I'm in Edinburgh having concluded the riding portion of my trip. It's been a fun time in the saddle, but like all good things it's come to the end. The internet access was less than I thought, so I'll be adding images and comments over the next few days.

Edinburgh is a grand town and I'll be exploring it through the duration of my time here. The weather is rainy with high wind warnings of 70 mile gusts for the next couple of days! Holy cow, I finished in the nick of time.

I had mostly good weather during my ride with exception of a steady head wind for the last three days of the ride. Day four was the worst, where I had to peddle going down hill because of 30 mile an hour head wind in my face. I made it to Killin just as it started to rain, which was also the start of my rest and laundry day. I really needed it.

Rain, hail, wind and sunshine kept me company on my way to Rob Roy's grave before making it to Callender. There, my hostess Anne, was making apple pie, so the lodge smelled like walking into my grandmother's house. She was such a nice lady, actually all my hosts have been fantastic.

Rain greeted me for my final day, but it wasn't too bad. The current weather front was about six hours from me and I wanted to get to Sterling as soon as possible. I had been taking the longer routes to my destinations, but decided to take the shorter 21 mile route instead of the 32 mile. Something about dealing with 70 mile head wind I wasn't interested in. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I ended up taking an even shorter 15 mile route down a major road with high speed traffic, a narrow road, lorries (semi-trucks) and other potential death by vehicle hazards. Yikes!

More on that later.

In the mean time some pictures of the travels so far.

Tay River

McKenzie Castle

Oregon has Boring, Scotland has Dull

An old hotel

A hand carved wooden sign

Pike from the river Tay

Salmon from the river Tay

Snow in them there hills of Killin

Tastes better than the American crap! 

Rob Roy's Grave

An old building along the way.

My host shares the same Ross Clan name as me.
A day of 30 MPH head wind, kick my butt!
Something to keep you company enroute

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Days One and Two in The Saddle

Internet cafe service has been limited. Dunkeld had service for WiFi, however traveling light and not owning a laptop has been problematic in this regard. Petlochry has an Internet cafe, from which this post is being set. 

Day one was mostly rolling hills similar to Washington County, Oregon, approximately 26.5 miles. Day two, I encountered steeper hills, and was temporary confused with the directions and map provide, approximately 16 miles including retracing my tracks. Other than that, the ride was uneventful. Scotland has a national bicycling network which is quite extensive and well marked.

I made it to the Edradour Distillery, the smallest in Scotland. They make approximately 10,000 liters a month. Where as the more known distilleries make three to ten times that a day. Much of the methods and terminology is the same as making beers and ales, the only difference is the distilling process, which entails turning the liquid into vapors to eliminate impurities (lye), then capturing and cooling the vapors returning it to a liquid. Maybe a new hobby?

After leaving Edradour Distillery, I stopped at the Moulin Inn, established 1648, had supper, enjoyed their freshly brewed Bravehart ale and 12 year cast strength Edradour whisky.  

Wahington County?

Dunkeld Cathedral, 1318

Dunkeld Cathedral Interior

Bagpipper made of engine parts

Enroute to Pitlochry

Part of the National Scotish Bicycle network.

Approaching Pitlochry

Last night's supper: Pan fried vension with raspberry and corrant sauce, herb and butter new potatoes and sauted vegetables. Yum, yum, yum!

Images of Keswick

Keswick feels like a movie set. Narrow streets, dinky sidewalks, if any at all, not to mention remembering to look right before crossing a street. And if you're an old or infirm person, your tough out of luck getting around. I helped a frail little old lady into a shop that had a pretty tall step to overcome. She grab a handle with her left hand, I took hold of her right arm, counted to three before giving her a boost.

Local Catholic Church, Parrish of St. John.

Visitor's Center.

Local Methodist Church.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A New Camera...Let The Exploring Begin

Okay...the camera and lodging problems have been resolved, the adventure continues. Finally over jet lag and a sleep deprivation hangover. Watching the soccer finals and actually begining to understand the game. Egads!

Went to a local buther shop yesterday and found partridge pâté, which, of course, I had to buy. Had it with toast this morning with breakfast. Mild, but rich in flavor. Will have it with some scrambled eggs tomorrow, to lessen the richness of the pâté.

Did some test shots with the new camera and it looks like it'll work okay, although I would rather not to have gone through the ordel of replacing it in the first place.

Keith, the taxi driver, suggested I taxi (of course) up to Surprise View where you can see two of the 19 lakes and hike down to Keswick. He said there's less chance of getting lost because you keep the town in view all the way down. According to the literature I've read, getting lost happens quite frequently. Most advise maps and compasses, both of which I don't have. 

Looking North from Surprise View.

Heading down, typical farm house.

From the lakeside heading into town.

Hiked back to town, about four miles, travelled along the lake with Bob and Josephine (Jo), nice retired couple who live in Windermere, the next town over.

There are so many things to do in the Lake District, it's hard to figure out which to do first. One thing I would like, is some technical climbing, but that's another trip and different gear.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Minor Hiccups in Keswick

Arrived mid-morning Monday, minus my camera -- which is enjoying another owner -- looking for its replacement.

Would be world travelers should check their spam box for any messages from abroad. The B&B could only accommodate my needs for four of the five nights I was expecting to stay. Their emails alerting me were diverted to the spam box (thanks Google!) That was the bad news. The good news. They found me a room for my last night and the first day of the Jazz Festival (big sigh of relief.)

On an upbeat note, Keswick and the Lake District are absolutely beautiful. Will post images once I have a replacement camera in hand and can start exploring.